VOLUNTEERS and archaeologists have embarked on a joint project to uncover the history of an ancient Yorkshire village.

The Finding Fryston project has begun an archaeological dig in the grounds of Monk Fryston Hall, giving people chance to discover the past from the Monks to the Victorians.

The site's director of archaeology Simon Tomson will be leading some free Excavation Training Days for volunteers, and once trained anyone who wishes to practice their newly acquired skills can join in at the dig.

He said: "This site is really productive and offers something for everyone; a safe space to work, a long period of history to unearth, puzzling questions to answer as artefacts and structures emerge."

Already volunteers are registering to take part, and the village school, and both youth and adult groups plan to visit and take part to see for themselves what turns up on the site - which has lain undisturbed for hundreds of years.

Volunteers with archaeologist Simon Tomson extending and opening the first trench. From left, Nigel Spofforth, Richard Cawthorne, Susie Newton and Simon Tomson.

Ray Newton is chairman of Monk Fryston Time Team, the group behind "Finding Fryston". He said: "We are delighted that so many people want to get involved with our project either by volunteering if they have some experience or by learning to volunteer or simply to visit the site on Open Days."

The project has been funded by a Heritage Lottery grant, without which Mr Newton said it would not have been possible.

The grounds are now being prepared and the excavation trenches opened in readiness for the dig volunteers to start work, alongside professional archaeologists who will guide and train them as they search area.

Ceramic expert Dr Chris Cumberpatch will be helping to analyse the finds and will also lead the free finds handling and sorting training days.

He has already paid a visit to the site and examined some early finds of pot sherds. He said: "This is a really exciting project. The sherds I have examined look like a solid early medieval assemblage, mainly local but with some regional imports.

"This is fantastic news and leads directly to the question of why we have found so many pieces of pottery in such good condition in this location."

Details of public open days and training days are online at www.findingfryston.co.uk